Why Couples Get a Divorce

Nearly 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce, with an even higher rate for subsequent marriages. Nobody ever thinks it will happen to them.

As you walk down the aisle to say, “I do” divorce is the furthest thing from your mind. You are in love, and believe you will be one of the couples that make it, whose marriage will last the test of time.

Time goes on and you face the stresses of every day life. You have bills to pay, children to feed, and chores that never end. You can’t seem to agree to anything. Resentment builds and you grow apart. One day you realize you don’t even like each other anymore.

So what went wrong? This loving relationship unraveled right before your eyes, and you don’t even know how or when it happened. You feel angry, exhausted and defeated.

The answer is that it happened slowly over time. The strong foundation your relationship once stood upon has been chipped away piece by little piece, and now there is hardly anything left. Divorce seems liken the only option at this point.

Why do people divorce? Of course, there is not one simple answer to this question, as the reasons are often many and very complex. But here, I will list the 6 most common reasons couples divorce (not in any particular order, and often interconnected).


Let’s face it, no two people have the same parenting style. When you and your spouse have completely different ideas of how to parent, and cannot reach some common ground, this will be a constant source of discontent in your marriage. Your home will be cursed with undermining, arguing, and lots of resentment. If one is strict and one lenient, or one parent constantly feels more of the burden, this can destroy your marriage.


This is a big one, and it needs to be worked on constantly. Even in the best of circumstances, a very happy couple will tell you how hard they work on this daily. More likely, though, you have different communication styles, and just finding the time and space to communicate becomes a challenge in your busy lives. Problems don’t get resolved, nobody feels heard or understood, and anger and resentment take over.


You probably don’t think of this when you think of reasons why people divorce, but it is extremely common. Whether it is the more common depression and anxiety, or more serious problems like bipolar disorder, it is very difficult to be with a partner struggling with this type of illness.

Many people turn to substance abuse as a way of coping with these problems and other stressors, and become addicted to drugs or alcohol. Any and all of these scenarios take a toll on marriage, and often the other partner just reaches a point where they can’t take it anymore.


Again, this is not one that gets enough recognition. Most of us have no idea what goes on behind closed doors. As a therapist, I have the privilege of hearing other people’s stories, and I can assure you that abuse is happening to someone you know. It is far more common than most of us realize, and usually the only way out is to leave the marriage. Abuse can be verbal, emotional and physical. All types of abuse are bad news for a relationship.


I cannot tell you how often I hear couples in my office telling me they have not been intimate in years…yes years. Somehow, life happened…they got busy with kids, got angry with each other and withdrew, didn’t make time for each other…and all of a sudden, years have gone by with no intimacy.

It is hard, if not impossible, to recover from this. Often, one partner is seeking more intimacy than the other, and feels rejected when their needs are not being met. Add this to some of the other issues mentioned above, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for an affair.


Although not all affairs are created equal, and often an affair is the symptom rather than the problem, affairs are often the final straw. Regardless of what other problems the marriage may have, people often leave the marriage when they find out about their spouse’s infidelity.

The good news is that if you know why most people divorce, you can safeguard your marriage by working on these issues before it is too late. Too many people ignore the warning signs and allow resentment to build. With a bit of dedication and hard work, even professional help when needed, you can learn to deal with these issues in a healthy way and strengthen your marriage.


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Lori Freson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Southern California. She has been working in the mental health field since 1997, and has been a licensed therapist since 2002. Lori currently works in her own thriving private practice in Encino and Sherman Oaks, where she serves the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles areas. Contact Lori at or call/text 818-514-LMFT


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